Echoes: The Best Of Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd

For some, there are sacred ground rules when it comes to listening to the music of Pink Floyd. For one, a collection of their "songs" practically violates their preeminence as an album-oriented group. How do you break up something like Dark Of The Moon and expect to capture the mood as effectively? For those in the know, it simply can't be done. 1992's Shine On box set did a more than adequate job of documenting the Pink Floyd experience. It contains six of Floyd's key albums in their entirety, as well as a bonus CD chronicling their early singles. Never one to leave well enough alone, EMI and Sony know that Pink Floyd is big business — a 10-year old box set has lost its shine. So for what may be the final and definitive word on one of rock's most melodramatic gathering of musicians, Echoes: The Best Of Pink Floyd is a 2 CD, 27-track compilation that does its utmost to glimpse a cohesive and sweeping snapshot.

Most of the "hits" are common fair for Floydian followers. Fortunately, there are also a few history lessons thrown in for good measure. Syd Barrett gets in his licks with five tunes including "Astronomy Domine" and "See Emily Play," the psychedelic anthem of the London underground. While Roger Waters' "Set The Control To The Heart Of The Sun" — which the bassist unveiled during his recent solo tour -- shows cause by expanding on the band's evolving diversity, somehow other pre-"Meddle" tracks like "Fat Old Sun" and "If" failed to make the cut. Once again, the industry types flex their know-how as it pertains to when Pink Floyd really started to make waves. "Meddle" has often been credited as being the first step the group took in defining their identity, seemingly setting the stage for a string of conceptual, groundbreaking explorations. While fans may be disappointed by the absence of "Fearless," they can take comfort in "One Of These Days" and "Echoes," considered by many to be the pinnacle of the group's impalpable chemistry.

For those who without the attention span to endure the rigors of a full and carefully crafted album, Echoes generously trots out hefty selections from Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall. "Money," "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," "Another Brick In The Wall," and "Comfortably Numb" all slip and slide through the orchestrated segues. "When The Tigers Broke Free," previously only available as a single promoting The Wall movie, as well as "Sheep" from Animals, and "The Fletcher Memorial Home" from The Final Cut — all wonderfully fill in the gaps. Finally, the set's infrastructure is supported by chunks of latter-day material. Of these, "Learning To Fly" and "Keep Talking" are two of the more popular songs from A Momentary Lapse Of Reason and The Division Bell. Once again, without something like "One Slip" or "On The Turning Away," Echoes is too much of a safe bet. Indeed, the entire set is perfectly apt for the casual or newly indoctrinated fan; however, with the Floyd's vast bastion of mind-numbing excursions, there's bound to be an expanded edition that belies a mere brushstroke, and gives us a more complete picture.

~ Shawn Perry

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